We all experienced job hunting.

Not too long ago, every Sunday morning at around 7:00am, I used to borrow a bicycle from our neighbor.  Ride this bicycle for a kilometer or two to buy the Sunday edition of a national daily not because I want to be informed about the latest news in the country but to look and browse its classified section. My job hunting quest starts there.

OFW Hiring - Gateway to Greener Pasture
OFW Hiring – Gateway to Greener Pasture

During those days, their classified section is really instrumental for my job hunting looking for various recruitment agencies and companies in Metro Manila and abroad. Though many years have already passed, the days were still so vivid to me. After encircling, highlighting and cutting the portions of ads where I think my qualifications suit the agencies/companies requirements, I will go to a nearby computer shop and start updating my resume, then prepare multiple copies of the updated resume and sets of photocopies of my work certifications.

Monday come, the tranquility of the early morning hours will greet you with the seldom passage of tricycles already on the street. I will take a ride from one of these tricycles to get me in the main street corner or “kanto”  where the “paradahan” (waiting/loading area) of jeepneys is located, so I can get another ride down to the bus terminal.

The atmosphere is pretty much still in a silence mode. While waiting for a bus, you will see people with different walks of life. The bus/street vendors are already out on the street offering you snacks, candies, tabloids, quail eggs, boiled peanuts, buko juice etc. The streetsweepers are also out there doing their work. Some “carinderia” stalls are also open serving the early morning passengers waiting for their rides. In one area of the street you see some private vehicles (vans) lined up and a barker shouts, “Mento! Mento!” or “Malate! Malate!”

If you’re in a hurry and would not want to catch up the traffic congestion along NLEX and in Bonifacio Avenue, you’ll end up taking your trip with these private vehicles (vans) but if you can bear waiting for about 15-30 minutes and sometimes an hour or so for the provincial buses to arrived, better to wait instead. For economical and safety reasons, I prefer travelling in a bus.

Finally, the next bus arrives and inside it, you could picture the exhausted faces of many passengers. Many are taking advantage of the two hour ride and have a short sleep. Some are busy preparing their things for work. Some secure their documents for job application or interview, like me. Hehehe!  During those times, riding a provincial bus from San Fernando-Olongapo Junction to its terminal in Doroteo Jose will take you to around two hours of travel time. If you’re unfortunate and there is a  heavy traffic on your way, expect your ride to be longer.

Once the bus reached the terminal in Manila, I familiarize myself on the streets around. Ride the LRT, ride a jeepney again or a pedicab and whenever I get lost on my way to the office of the agency I am heading to, the magic of “Mr. Magtanong”  is right there and there to guide me.

Thanks to all the Good Samaritans whom are selflessly taking time to give the right directions while I am at lost in the streets of Manila during my days of job hunting. These are the street vendors, passengers/driver in a jeepney ride, a passerby or just a bystander in the area.

Once I reach the office of the agency  I was looking for, I feel some kind of accomplishment. You know the kind of feeling… Alas! I finally found you. Hehehe!  But that will be shortlived when you get to experience a not-so-good environment in a recruitment agency.

Though there are agencies which accomodate their applicants well there are also agencies which you will find “brutal” or rude towards their applicants. You will experience this from time to time while you’re in a job hunting mode especially if you’re a newbie. You will encounter balikbayan’s or ex-OFWs also applying and boasts their former company or how much they earn before.

The number of people lined up waiting is very noticeable. With your surprise, you quip to yourself, “Pambihira! Ang dami pala naming gustong umalis ng bansa.”. Curious what to do next or whom to ask for, you will ask one of the applicants too, “Pare, saan magsa-submit ng resume? Kanino magbibigay ng resume? May pi-fill-up-an ba? May placement ba?

Consider yourself lucky if the people in the agency are accommodating, polite and will respond with all your queries in a nicely and friendly manner. To some, which at some point in time I had an experience too, you will hear a not so good damning words from these agency’s personnel. Making you feel that we badly needed the work and if not with them, we are nothing. Our application will be lost or denied. Most of the time, they pinpoint to us the naivete or the ignorance of our queries. “Pasensiya na sir, first time ko po kasing mag-apply sa abroad”, sabi ng isang mama.

It is so frustrating and irritating to see such kind of situation but all you can do is to humble and submit yourself to utmost understanding, so you can make a step forward towards your goal, and that is to land a job abroad for you to earn a bigger salary. You cannot lose your control. You tell yourself, “Para sa kinabukasan ng pamilya ko ito. Nag-aaral na si Junior. Konting tiis lang.” Patience should be your friend at all times. Don’t ever lose it.

Most of the time, the applicant’s scholastic record or professional background will give him the leverage on how he will be treated by the agency’s personnel. They seem to be more lenient and polite when the applicant is more experienced (local or abroad) or a licensed professional while for the least of professions we have (menial jobs) specifically in the labour construction workforce (like masons, helpers, carpenters, welders, plumbers and the likes), the treatment is limited and oftentimes they belittle our fellows.

No offense meant to all our Kabayans who have these kind of works. We should all be proud to whatever kind of work we have. These recruitment agencies must exercise due respect to all their applicants no matter what the applicant’s qualifications are. Be it just a high school graduate who will work as a waiter, mason or a laborer or a college graduate with Ph.D. who will work as an Engineer or a Manager.

Oftentimes, the above observation is experienced by most of our Kabayans whom are willing to take not on the grudge and be separated from their families just to earn a decent salary abroad. While the government could not provide quality and decent salary for its workforce, its people are continuously looking and finding out ways to secure their family’s future. With no concrete plan on the side of our government on how we could augment our financial needs, we OFWs turn a blind eye and sign a Contract-To-Work-Abroad and leave our families behind.

Hard to deny the fact that we OFWs have accepted the inevitable scenario and succumb our fate will be away from our family in exchange for that greener pasture. Hopefully one day we all say… “Pilipinas kong mahal, I will never leave you again!”

Happy reading and God bless!